Blizzard is taking a step back from promoting its upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands, by postponing an upcoming game update stream that was originally scheduled for June 9. The move comes amid social unrest in America while many people protest the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers.
While many developers have attempted to return to some degree of normalcy in producing and promoting video games despite the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous entertainment entities are putting a hold on social media promotions as places like Twitter are flooded with calls for social action and protest.
A number of content creators took an initiative early this week during “Blackout Tuesday” by not streaming. Instead, streamers like TimTheTatman, Ninja, and Dr Disrespect, who are typically an escape from reality for many, forced regular viewers to take a moment to digest the country’s social unrest.
Around the same time, Twitch said it wouldn’t be maintaining its typical social media presence due to the social circumstances the U.S. is facing. In addition, the platform canceled its monthly “Twitch Prime” show.
Blizzard’s decision to postpone its Shadowlands update stream appears to be for similar reasons. The company is trying to allow social protests to be the focus of the U.S. public while communities seek ways to solve issues of police brutality and systemic racism.
“More important voices than ours need to be heard, and now is the time to listen,” the official WoW Twitter account said. “We are postponing our upcoming World of Warcraft: Shadowlands livestream planned for June 9, and will share more details about the expansion in the future.”
Blizzard originally planned for Shadowlands to be released before the end of the year prior to work from home policies that were enacted due to COVID-19. Despite setbacks, Blizzard’s WoW lead Ion Hazzikostas has held firm that the developer intends to have the game out before the end of the year.
Shadowlands’ alpha began at the beginning of April. Since that point, the development has implemented numerous new features for testing. There hasn’t been any announcement regarding when beta testing might begin, but Hazzikostas has spent much of the past two months speaking with content creators live on their streams to discuss the new expansion.